I always assumed I’d be writing horror. When I became a writer it was a no brainer. It was a place I felt the most comfortable, and welcomed. When my first book was published I was excited to be included in the splatterpunk genre because that’s where I called home. As I began writing though, something interesting happened. I began to drift further and further from splatterpunk. The Darkness of the Soul was an attempt to challenge myself a little, and it sort of worked. I’m proud of the book and how it turned out, but that was the beginning of the shift away from horror. Legacy 2 is my last full fledged horror novel. Balls out splatterpunk, but it’s deceiving in a way because of how it was released. It was written before Darkness so it feels as if I’m returning back to my horror roots. As a writer I’m constantly exploring, and evolving. All writers do that, at least I think they do.
The problem was that I was no longer having fun writing horror. I wanted to challenge myself and see what I was capable of. Horror was fun for awhile, but it was to constricting. When I began writing Out With A Whimper I was able to write a novel with some elements of horror but there’s a great deal of dark humor to it as well. I set out to create an anti-zombie novel and I did. I threw out all the rules of the genre to create something unique. I was having a lot of fun writing and I wanted to go further. You can say I sold out, but I see it another way. With the new direction I found that I could inject a lot of my own personality into my work, and keep most of the elements people enjoy. The same dark overtones, the same black humor, but most importantly I’m having a great deal of fun. Aware was the moment I realized that the game had changed for me. Would people accept it? Jesus, did I really sell out?
This was just a natural progression for me. I’ve been reading a lot of books outside of the horror genre and that’s crept into my writing. Ideas that I could never explore as a horror author can now be explored and it’s fun. Will people accept the new style? If not there’s a lot of other readers that aren’t horror fans that will embrace the new stuff because it’s so different. I was worried about what fans would say when they heard about the new direction my writing was taking, but in the end, I had to do what I felt was best for me. We all grow and evolve. No one stays in the same place forever. The hard part is expaining why you’re doing the things you do. Some get it, some don’t, but it’s expected.
The one thing I can assure you is there won’t be any attempts to go mainstream. Aware is too weird for that, and as I work on the follow up to it, I can say with some assurance there’s no chance in hell I’ll ever be beach reading material. If anything, I want to challenge people to think a little. To explore subject matter with a weird little twist at the end. It’s still dark, it’s still messed up which is a trademark of mine. I don’t even know what genre the new stuff is called, or could even be marketed as. That’s up to the publishers, not me. That’s why they make the big bucks isn’t it? As a writer I’m just following my gut, and that’s really all I can do. Maybe some day I’ll make a dramatic return to horror or it’s possible I won’t. Who knows. I just hope people continue to read my stuff and enjoy it. To the fans who follow me on this new journey you better strap in. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride.
A friend of mine wanted me to blog about my recent novella but I almost didn’t write this because I have befriended a lot of writers on Facebook and I didn’t want them to get paranoid and think that I’d want them to look at my manuscript. On the opposite side I didn’t want people to think that I wrote a novella because I happen to interact with some writers on Facebook. The more I thought about I figured if I present it the right way people will get a pretty cool blog about me finally finishing my first writing project in 16 years. That is something I’m really proud of and in the end I wanted to write about it because there’s a lesson here as well. Who knows maybe it’ll inspire someone and allow them to try and do something they never thought was possible. Life is funny like that isn’t it? You just have to open yourself up and want to be inspired. If you want to accomplish anything you have to shove aside the what ifs and just go for it.
I have always been a huge fan of horror and as a kid I was into all sorts of weird shit. I saw Gene Simmons spit blood and blow fire and it changed how I saw rock bands. It was crazy that a band could not only blow shit up and spit blood but they would do it wearing face paint. When I started reading I was always into stuff that other people deemed inappropriate but it wasn’t because I wanted to draw attention to myself or maybe make my peers appear unintelligent I was just doing what I loved to do. Reading Stephen King in the third grade didn’t seem that odd to me and I couldn’t understand what the big deal was. These were the same people that taught me to read and encouraged me to read but suddenly what I was reading was a big issue for people. I hated doing book reports because I would always get asked if I really read the book and then it was rejected because they didn’t feel it was age appropriate. Well, shit, thanks for teaching me how to read and then making me feel like a freak.
I was always into to dark subject matter. I would watch horror films and read horror novels and somehow I became this well adjusted adult that never killed anyone and has never leaned toward violence against another human being. My teachers were wrong. They should have supported me but they chose not too and it really bothered me. I never really thought about writing until I read Pet Sematary. That book was the gate that swung open and I thought; “I want to do that!” I was in the fifth grade and I had no idea how to write and I sure as hell didn’t know what I had to do to become a published author but once I wrote my first story I was hooked. In the 6th grade we had to all come up with story ideas and mine were always so fucked that I not only would get an A but the teacher would remark that I was pretty morbid. The other kids weren’t half as good as I was but I think writing just always came naturally to me. It’s something you’re born with. My teachers were impressed that my english and writing tests showed that in the fifth grade I was already reading at a twelfth grade reading level so while they still gave me shit about what I was reading they kind of expected some off the wall shit because I was already ahead of my peers.
I kept writing for a long time thinking that I would get published. Never doubted it but then I got married and had my first child and just simply quit. I no longer had the time for it and to be honest I had no money to go the traditional route. In those days you needed an agent to sell your manuscript and that took money that I didn’t have. By the time I had my twins writing was just something I used to do. From 1998 until about a month ago I didn’t write anything except this blog. I always wondered though if I could still do it though but then I thought no, I’m too old now. There’s no way. I pushed the idea away and just never really tried to do it. When my marriage fell apart three years ago I got an itch to try and write but I just brushed it aside because my time was gone. I couldn’t really have a career in my thirties could I? With the publishing going digital it started to become easier to become published. A lot of writers are putting their own books out without the help of a publisher and they’re doing it because they love writing. Money isn’t a motivating factor and I have to say that that appealed to me. It sounds crazy but if you love what you’re doing people will find you. That’s what Facebook and Goodreads are for. You can build a fan base on your own without a major publisher or any money geared toward marketing. Three fans with a Facebook account can go a long way.
When I decided to write again I never thought that I would get published. For me it was all about seeing if I was able to string together a few coherent thoughts and make something out if it. I figured the idea that I had was a perfect novella and as I wrote it I started to remember how much fun I used to have and I was still having a blast. I was a bit rusty but once I started disciplining myself I found that I was getting better and it made me feel good that after all these years I was still pretty good. I thought I was but the jury’s still out on how good it actually is. The writing came easily and the words just kind of flowed. I knew exactly how the story would end and the fun was getting it there. I also realized that I’m glad I never pursued a career as a writer because I don’t write normal mainstream stuff. I never have and believe I have tried to write mainstream stuff but eventually the darkness bleeds in.
What scares me is that I’ll wake up one day and find that I’m no longer able to read or even write. I don’t want to be one of those people that always think what if. I still write in the same style I did when I was fifteen so it’s nice to see that splatterpunk is still around even if it’s under a different moniker. I do love bizarro but I have no idea how to write in that style. You give me a nail gun though and I will have a lot of fun writing a scene around it. If people like it great and if they don’t that’s fine too. I am forty years old and no critic is as harsh as I am. I dunno if this is what she had in mind when she asked me to write a blog about my writing but this is what I came up with and it does explain a lot of interesting things but it isn’t exactly what she requested.